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Guests Want to Bring Drones on Your Tours. Now What?

For as long as we’ve had photography, some travelers have made the pictures they take home a priority. Drones now allow those travelers to take their trip photos to literal new heights, and who could blame them? After all, why bother with selfies when you can wow the folks at home with shots like this ones from airpixels on Instagram, or videos like this?

Gorgeous, right? But drone travel photography is no casual hobby. Travelling with drones can be challenging, between the effort of lugging a drone and photography equipment, dealing with flight authorities and navigating international laws. After working through all of that, a tour that accommodates drone use is a lovely respite.

But while there are certainly travelers who will want to bring them along, there are some very good reasons you may not want to accommodate drones in your tours. Here are 4 questions to ask before inviting drones alone:

1. Are drones legal in your area?

Many countries have regulations surrounding the use of drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles. Failure to follow those regulations can result in fines or even jail time. Your company may or may not be held responsible for your guests’ drone use, but either way, you probably don’t want to encourage customers to do something legal. Before you even consider allowing drone photography on your tours, be sure it’s legal where you operate.

2. Will drones disrupt the experience?

A drone buzzing around the landscape may ruin some of the aesthetic experience of your tours for other guests, but that’s far from the only disruption drones can cause. Drones and accompanying equipment need to be carried with the group, so they may not be appropriate for particularly active tours, or tours that travel through difficult to traverse areas. Drone operators also need to pay attention to their piloting, so tours that don’t include free time to wander or relax won’t be appropriate for drones.

3. Are you prepared to communicate guidelines and legal information?

Once guests start bringing drones along on your tours, your safety checks and tour rules will need to include guidance for them. Guests will also need to know any legal restrictions before they attend your tours, so set aside some space on your website for drone information. This can also give drone hobbyists a heads up that your tours are drone-friendly and worth booking, so it’s worth having — just be sure to point out that guests should confirm legal regulations for themselves.

4. Are your guides willing to take on the extra responsibility?

Your guides need to keep guests safe and happy, and drones can make that job harder. They’ll need to be sure that guests aren’t piloting drones at inappropriate times, that no one’s too distracted to continue the tour safely, and that no laws are being broken. If those extra challenges are unwelcome, drones may not be a good fit.

And there are other considerations, too. For instance, do you normally allow your tours to be filmed? If you ban GoPros or professional cameras, consider that even hobbyist drones can take video footage, not just photographs.

If you’re not comfortable with all these considerations, it may be time to write your tour company’s drone policy with clear restrictions — this will help you avoid misunderstandings and frustrating in the future. But if you’re ready for the extra challenges drones can bring, great! That’s a fact well-worth advertising, because drone enthusiasts are always looking for exciting new places to fly.

Want to whet their appetites with some aerial footage of your own? Check out our guide on marketing your tours with drone footage.

Written by

Nissa Campbell is an author and blogger who covers tourism and technology . Since 2014, she has been documenting booking software at Rezgo and working with tour operators at all levels of the industry to help them find solutions to their technical needs.

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